National 11.10.2013 07:00 am

DNA Bill closer to becoming a law

Image courtesy stock.xchnge (svilen001)

Image courtesy stock.xchnge (svilen001)

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) is expected to pass the much anticipated Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill, popularly known as the DNA Bill, next week.

This was confirmed by Portfolio committee on police chairman, Annelize van Wyk, who has already approved the Bill. This was after she had, however, noted that DNA evidence alone would not solve crimes, but stated that it would support sound investigative techniques.

She had emphasised that for the Bill to be properly effective, a co-ordinated effort was needed between health department, which is currently responsible for collecting DNA at crime scenes, the police and correctional services departments.

Once the NCOP has passed the Bill, it will finally find its way to President Jacob Zuma’s in-tray to be signed into law.

The Bill is expected to have a major impact on the overall criminal justice system and will ensure that the current DNA database is expanded and managed in a regulated and appropriate manner. It will make it mandatory to take DNA samples from suspects at the time of arrest for schedule one offences and that DNA samples are taken from all convicted offenders, retrospectively and before their release from prison.

The Bill also calls for police officers to be allowed to take non-intimate DNA samples from those arrested and convicted offenders, which will ensure that a sample is quickly and easily uplifted.

The Bill also provides for the taking of specified bodily samples from certain categories for the purposes of forensic DNA analysis, the use of forensic DNA profiles in crime investigations and the use of such profiles in proving the innocence or guilt of the accused during a prosecution or in the possible exoneration of those already convicted.

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